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COVID-19 in Quebec: What you need to know Wednesday

Montreal's public health director says the peak of the fifth wave has passed, although people must remain vigilant. Provincial public health officials say the same is true for the province as a whole. Here's what you need to know.

Omicron wave slowing across province, Montreal area

Quebec elementary and high school students won't need to wear masks in class when they return from March break. They will still have to wear them in common areas, hallways and on school transport. (Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press)
  • On Wednesday, Quebec reported 1,672 people in hospital (a decrease of 70 from the previous day), including 102 in intensive care (a decrease of five from the previous day).
  • The province reported 1,861 new cases of COVID-19 and 17 deaths.
  • Since the start of the pandemic, there have been 915,762 confirmed cases, and 13,903 people have died.
  • The province also reported Wednesday a total of 18,354,449 doses of COVID-19 vaccines administered, including 12,669 in the last 24 hours. 
  • 91 per cent of the eligible population in the province (aged five and up) have received one dose of the vaccine; 86 per cent have received two doses, and 50 per cent have received three doses.

*The new cases are those reported to the Quebec government only. They are believed to be an underrepresentation of the virus's spread, given the limited availability of PCR tests and use of home testing kits.

Quebec public health officials say the Omicron wave is slowing, but it was overall more widespread than expected, with about a third of the province's population infected in its midst. 

"Globally, the situation is better," the interim director of public health for Quebec, Dr. Luc Boileau, said Wednesday, noting that though there are still new cases of the virus every day, there has been a steady decrease in hospital and intensive care admissions.

Boileau says the province now estimates three million Quebecers likely caught it.

"Things are heading in the right direction," Boileau said. "But this wave is not over," he added, urging people to remain cautious as Quebec continues to ease restrictions.

Boileau said a study shows that at least 30 per cent of children in Montreal have antibodies to the coronavirus, either because of vaccination or exposure to the virus. The highest level of antibodies — 97 per cent — is in teens age 12-17, the study shows.

Those results come from the testing of blood samples carried out at Montreal's Sainte-Justine children's hospital. 

When it comes to COVID-19 in Montreal, the worst may also be over, the public health director for the island of Montreal said Wednesday. 

Dr. Mylène Drouin says the peak of the fifth wave has passed, and indicators like hospitalizations and the number of students absent from school show infections are on a downward trend.

Drouin says overall, about one million Montrealers have been infected with the Omicron variant since December, and therefore "a lot of people have been immunized throughout this wave."

As Quebec approaches the second anniversary of its first confirmed case of COVID-19, Drouin says she's comfortable with recent announcements of loosening restrictions, including, most recently, the end of mandatory masks in classes after spring break. 

Still, Drouin says, people need to remain vigilant and follow remaining public-health guidelines.

Quebec to provide update on masks in schools

Quebec's interim public health director, Dr. Luc Boileau, is expected to hold a news conference at 2 p.m. today regarding the changes to mask mandates in schools. 

The province announced yesterday elementary and high school students won't need to wear masks in class when they return from March break — a move that prompted concern from some health experts and school associations. 

Students will still have to wear masks in common areas, hallways and on school transport. University and CEGEP classes will still require masks.

Fewer masks in workplace as of Feb. 28

Starting Monday, you can do your job in-person and maskless, under certain conditions. 

In a news release, Quebec's workplace health and safety board (CNESST) says masks will no longer be required in the workplace as of Feb. 28, provided there are physical barriers between people or a distance of two metres can be kept between them. Masks must still be worn in common areas.

Working remotely will also no longer be mandatory, and people can begin a gradual return to the workplace. 

    Top COVID-19 stories

    What are the symptoms of COVID-19? 

         
    • Fever. 
    •    
    • New or worsening cough. 
    •    
    • Difficulty breathing. 
    •    
    • Sudden loss of smell without a stuffy nose.
    •    
    • Gastrointestinal issues (such as nausea, diarrhea, vomiting).
    •    
    • Sore throat
    •    
    • Generalized muscle pain.
    •    
    • Headache.
    •    
    • Fatigue.
    •    
    • Loss of appetite.

    If you think you may have COVID-19, the government asks that you call 1‑877‑644‑4545 to schedule an appointment at a screening clinic. 

    To reserve an appointment for a COVID-19 vaccine, you can go on the online portal quebec.ca/covidvaccine. You can also call 1-877-644-4545.

    You can find information on COVID-19 in the province here and information on the situation in Montreal here

     

    With files from the Canadian Press

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